THE CHARLES ELIOT NORTON LECTURES
Cover: The Secular Scripture: A Study of the Structure of Romance, from Harvard University PressCover: The Secular Scripture in PAPERBACK

The Secular Scripture

A Study of the Structure of Romance

Add to Cart

Product Details

PAPERBACK

$34.00 • £27.95 • €30.50

ISBN 9780674796768

Publication Date: 01/01/1978

Short

Northrop Frye’s thinking has had a pervasive impact on contemporary interpretations of our literary and cultural heritage. In his Anatomy of Criticism, a landmark in the history of modern critical theory, he demonstrated his genius for mapping out the realm of imaginative creation. In The Secular Scripture he turns again to the task of establishing a broad theoretical framework, bringing to bear his extraordinary command of the whole range of literature from antiquity to the present.

Romance, a mode of literature trafficking in such plot elements as mistaken identity, shipwrecks, magic potions, the rescue of maidens in distress, has tended to be regarded as hardly deserving of serious consideration; critics praise other aspects of the Odyssey, The Faerie Queene, Shakespeare’s last plays, and Scott’s Waverley novels, for example, while forgiving the authors’ indulgence in childishly romantic plots. Frye, however, discerns in the innumerable romantic narratives of the Western tradition an imaginative universe stretching from an idyllic world to a demonic one, and a pattern of action taking the form of a cyclical descent into and ascent out of the demonic realm. Romance as a whole is thus seen as forming an integrated vision of the world, a “secular scripture” whose hero is man, paralleling the sacred scripture whose hero is God.

The clarity of Northrop Frye’s perception, the scope and suggestiveness of his conceptualizing, the wit and grace of his style, have won him universal admiration.

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Jacket: The Strategy of Conflict, by Thomas C. Schelling, from Harvard University Press

Schelling the Trailblazer

Books influence us in untold ways, and the ones that influence us the most are often read in childhood. Harvard University Press Senior Editor Julia Kirby is reminded of this on the anniversary of the birth of one of this country’s most celebrated economists. This month would have brought Thomas Schelling’s one-hundredth birthday—and he got closer to seeing it than many mortals. The Nobel laureate economist died just five years ago, after a brilliant career as both a scholar and an advisor to US foreign policy strategists. What better day to dip into his classic work